Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Coming Out

As a 52 year old activist for GLBT rights, I am sometimes asked what it is I am fighting for and why.  I ask myself that question quite often - especially when it seems the very people who would seem to be allies - should be allies - are so petty and dysfunctional.
As I search my source of motivation, I return to my coming out days.  At 18, much to my surprise, I fell in love with a woman.  I hid it from my friends and family.  I struggled to make sense of it.  I felt guilt and fear based on all that I had been taught.  I rejected the notion that I could be a lesbian.  My religious and cultural upbringing was in total conflict with my loving another woman.  
When that relationship ended, I was devastated.  I had no one to talk with about it.  She was the only one who knew.  She was gone.  
I tried everything I could think of to get over it - to excuse it away.  I immersed myself in "Campus Crusade for Christ".  I dated a nice man who asked me to marry him.  But nothing worked to change what I knew.  It did not fit for me.  I could not be in that world any longer.  I thought I could not be in the world any longer.  I felt as though this one relationship was so isolated and so unique that I was forever an outsider the world around me.  
A year later, the loneliness and isolation was overwhelming.  In the depths of my anguish, two Nuns addressed my religious issues.  And a friend put me in touch with a community of older Lesbians who had built a community and lived rather openly.  
That is why I speak out now.  That is what I am fighting for - that person - 18, 30, 40, or older - who has discovered they love someone of the same sex and is struggling to make sense of it.  The person who feels they are in the wrong body somehow.
Our hearts do not know gender.  Love is not a gender.  
I am so lucky that I learned I was a lesbian when I was just 18.  As I meet GLBT people who have learned this in later years, I realize that the older you are, the more baggage there is to overcome.  Children, jobs, older parents, spouses, community ties, all become major hurdles.  I have heard these stories over and over again with gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender people who have come out in later years.  Some have lost their jobs.  Some have lost family relationships.  It has caused divorces.  It has resulted in community scrutiny.  
I am fighting to provide a sense of community for those who struggle with these issues.  I am fighting to help to educate the world that understands love knows no gender.  Love is what it is.  I am fighting for love because I love.

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